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Umeno is back?

Baseball news from Japan and Asia

Welcome to the Tiger Tails Blog

Featuring Christopher Amano-Langtree (a.k.a. Christopher)

This blog will attempt to report on as many Hanshin Tigers games as possible. Games will be, if possible, reported the day after and on rare occasions the same day.

Umeno is back?

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Tigers have signed Cody Satterwhite - a triple A player to bolster their bullpen. It doesn't help them with their Fujikawa problem but could well do something to help their late innings survival. After a long break Umeno returned to the top team presumably mentally reinforced enough to be able to handle top team games. The question is what for though? Haraguchi was handling the main catching duties well enough and hitting nicely to boot. One would have thought that Tigers would go with the man in form but this is not the Kanemoto approach. Initially I did not think that Haraguchi was going to work out but he proved me wrong in a big way. I like Umeno but at the moment Haraguchi is the better catcher (though with a weakness under the high ball) and his bat is also valuable. He can be used as a DH to be sure but this is only for a limited amount of games. The switching of Fukudome and Gomez also offers no conceivable advantage and one feels that Kanemoto is clutching at straws.

Anyway Tigers traveled to Sapporo to play the Fighters. Iwasada started out well and for 4 innings held the home side scoreless. This was good pitching but deceptive. Tigers in the meantime took a 2 run lead by the fifth but then squandered it. Iwasada started to bleed runs from the bottom of the fifth and Nippon Ham added one run per innings until the seventh putting the score at 3-2. Umeno certainly didn't handle Iwasada well in these latter stages and the Tigers starter was poor value for his 6.1 innings. Still Tigers were in the lead by the eighth courtesy of a Takayama double which brought home 2 runs 4.-3 Tigers. Dollis held the line in the eighth which meant that Tigers would win if Fujikawa could do his stuff. This was not to be and really one has to ask what is Fujikawa for? He failed miserably as a starter and clearly no longer has his old ability to close. He was never even close in the ninth - the first batter he faced singled and then Laird hit a two run home run to end the game. Umeno's first match back hadn't exactly been good.

Okazaki took over for the second game which was pitched by Messenger. The latter seems to prefer pitching to mediocre catchers. He rather liked Fujii and the trend seems to continue with Okazaki. The issue for Messenger is that his pitch count is getting higher and higher. These seven innings took 132 pitches and even though he kept Nippon Ham scoreless Tigers don't have enough pitching to burn through their starters arms. Tigers runs came from the bat of Yamato who is not getting enough playing time and a Shunsuke oshidashi. This time Dolis pitched the ninth and got the save. Tigers ran out 3-0 innings.

For the final game of the series we saw Iwazaki against Ohtani. Ohtani is hot and Tigers failed miserably to get on the scoreboard. Iwazaki despite his economy was hit quite comfortably with a run in the first and four more in his six innings of work. Itoh gave up a run in the seventh and Nippon Ham ran out 6-0 winners. One has to say that Tigers were outplayed in the series and their weak pitching poorly exposed. It is probably time for Tigers pitching coach to develop an 'illness' and be replaced. One notes how many of the younger talented pitchers have been ignored and pitcher selection has rather been a kind of reaching blindfold into a barrel and grabbing someone. Kanemoto is still learning but really he needs to fix a settled lineup and build on that. All the switching around is not helping his team who are struggling to know what is needed from them.

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